Manager, Securitization and Bank Relations
The treasury and finance profession is powerful. Constantly advancing, expanding and evolving, treasury and finance are full of possibilities for anyone who has the desire to learn and achieve.
As part of AFP’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Awareness Initiative, we’re featuring stories from financial professionals on how they got into the profession and advice for young financial professionals interested in careers in treasury and finance. In this interview, William Biancucci, Manager, Securitization and Bank Relations, describes his experience entering the financial field and how he navigated his career journey.
AFP: Share your experience entering the financial field.
Biancucci: I was inspired to pursue my undergraduate studies in economics, finance and international business through the Honors College program at the University of Illinois at Chicago after taking
an introductory economics course taught by Dr. Evelyn Lehrer, an excellent professor, well-published, and bright economist. I had a very positive experiencing learning from a Latina economist originally from Chile and little did I know that it would
set the foundation of a career in finance.
Having grown up in Venezuela and witnessing how failed economic government policies negatively impacted my family and close friends, I was determined to learn and understand the power of free market economies to help societies thrive. I wanted to solidify my understanding of the markets by working in the financial field to help my family and community succeed by staying abreast of financial markets and sharing that knowledge with them.
I started out in a corporate accounting role at major investment bank in New York City, and a few years later found an opportunity at McDonald’s Corporation treasury team that incorporated corporate finance, risk management, investments, and working cross-functionally with colleagues in other functions around the world. The role was exciting, challenging and intellectually stimulating, and I was lucky to work with and learn from highly accomplished and talented treasury professionals with global banking experience.
AFP: What advice would you give to young financial professionals just starting out in their career?
Biancucci: Have an open mind, continuously ask yourself how you can improve your skills and processes in any organization that you work in, and stay intellectually curious. The world of finance is constantly evolving, so reading consistently about financial topics that interest you is imperative to continue growing professionally. I stay abreast of the markets by reading The Morning Brew, Robinhood snacks, Wall Street Journal The New York Times, The Economist and CNBC.
Network with professionals with careers that are of interest through LinkedIn. Take some calculated risks if there are opportunities to expand your financial and professional toolkit beyond your current scope (whether internally or externally) and seek out mentors who will provide guidance and support as you navigate your career. Leverage your school’s network and professional organizations such as the Association for Financial Professionals, Alpha Kappa Psi, and Beta Gamma Sigma to learn from professionals in the field and secure one or two internships in different areas of finance. That way, you have a better sense of which ones you enjoy the most and least before starting a full-time position. There is a lot of variety within finance, and each area has aspects that suit people differently.
AFP: What does the future of finance and treasury look like to you?
Biancucci: Treasury’s key role as a strategic partner to any organization’s leadership to better protect its assets and manage its growth will continue to increase in the marketplace as access to information through technology expands and competition increases.
Artificial intelligence will continue to drive automation, and financial transactions will be expedited through the adoption of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies, particularly Etherium. The financial system is quickly evolving and FinTech companies are accelerating that evolution to facilitate transactions, and access to capital in a more efficient manner. Technology will continue to drive change in all industries, and finance is no exception. Treasury professionals need to continue to learn and stay abreast of market trends and advancements in the field. They need to understand how emerging technologies can help to streamline and optimize processes to better manage liquidity, counterparty and foreign exchange risks to help organizations continue meeting its financial and organizational objectives.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as retention of diverse talent, will continue to play a key role in any organization’s competitive advantage and be top of mind as organizations grow and serve a broader set of customers with increasing purchasing power and financial literacy. The increased representation of communities of color in the treasury and finance profession will play a key role in any organization’s success. I have been actively involved in helping drive that increase of diversity and representation throughout my professional network by actively engaging with and mentoring first-generation college students from historically under-represented minorities in business, as well as facilitating financial literacy programs through organizations such as Junior Achievement and Sprouting Leaders, which primarily help elementary through high school students from under-served communities.
AFP: Did you have a mentor, or were you part of any groups or influenced by anyone as you navigated your career journey?
Biancucci: I did have and continue to have mentors who have provided valuable insights, guidance, and unique perspectives as I advance in my career and help others succeed professionally. I have also been fortunate to benefit from and give back to organizations that help under-represented minorities in business such as the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) and Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). It has been a wonderful ride thus far, and I look forward to continuing to make a positive impact throughout the rest of my professional journey. I was inspired by the leadership of those organizations including that of Damian Rivera, Fidel Vargas, and John Rice, who have used their knowledge, experience and influence to advance causes that are important to me and significantly improve the lives of communities of color and under-represented minorities in business for generations to come.